5 Reasons "W Sitting" Is Bad For Your Child's Body And Development
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
What is W-Sitting?
W-sitting is when a child sits on their bottom with their knees bent ahead of their body and their feet pointing back and out by their hips. If you’re standing above your child, you will see their legs and body make the shape of a W. Physiologically, this position means that their hips and knees are rotated inwards.
What is the problem with W-Sitting?
It is common to see children move in and out of W-sitting, especially while playing on the ground. While it’s okay for a child to move into a W-position occasionally, they shouldn’t hang out that way for too long. W-sitting for long periods of time can strain the body and affect physical and neural development in the following five ways. W-Sitting can:
Limit Trunk/Core Strength
The wide sitting stance of the W position makes it easier to keep the body upright. The large base of the W requires less core muscle engagement than might be needed in other sitting postures.
Inhibit Cross Body Movements
W-Sitting makes it difficult for children to rotate their upper bodies and reach across to either side with one or both arms.
Increase The Risk Of Hip Dislocation
If a child has hip problems, sitting in the W position can put strain on the hips and joints. This increases the likelihood of dislocation due to the laxity of the joint (over stretch of supporting tissues).
Delay Development Of Hand Preference
In a W-sitting position, a child has too much trunk control and stability. It’s very easy to use either hand to accomplish tasks. While this may be convenient for your child in the short term, developing hand preference is important for writing ability later on.
Increase Muscle Tightness
If a child is prone to muscle tightness then sitting in a W position will increase tightness in hips, knees, and ankles. This can put undue strain on the joints and cause issues later down the road.
What can you do about your child’s W-Sitting?
If you notice that your child likes sitting in a W position, try to help them change it up. Remind them to “fix” their legs or offer them a small chair or stool to get them up off of the floor. If they prefer sitting on the floor, suggest that they try one of these more optimal positions.
Sitting With Legs crossed – Get your child to sit on their bottom, crossing their legs one over the other while bending their knees and tucking their feet under. This position is often called sitting “criss-cross applesauce”.
Sitting With Legs In Front – Have you child sit on their bottom with their legs straight in front of them.
Supporting Your Child’s Development
Helping your child to avoid the W position while seated on the floor will help keep their bodies comfortable and their development on track. If your child has been favouring W-Sitting and you are having trouble getting them to adopt a new favourite position, consider connecting with a Manual Osteopath, Physiotherapist, or Occupational Therapist to see if there is a reason for the preference, or for the inability to change positions.